Somali pirates, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic guns, hijacked a chemical tanker off East Africa with 22 crew members, mostly Indians, the European Union naval force said on Sunday.

Cmdr John Harbour of the naval force said there was little chance of military forces storming the ship because officials didn't believe the crew made it to a safe room before the pirates boarded. The crew comprised 19 Indians, 2 Bangladeshis and 1 Ukrainian, he said.

The ship, Marida Marguerite, was heading to Belgium from India.

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said a Taiwanese fishing boat was hijacked off the Somali coast by pirates and the bandits had demanded a ransom for releasing the crew.